New Bill Aims to Simplify FAFSA Even More

Proposed bill would allow students to file the form once – and only once – to qualify for federal financial aid for college.

Elizabeth Hoyt

August 02, 2016

New Bill Aims to Simplify FAFSA Even More

There’s a new bill, proposed by Congressional Democrats, that seeks to further simplify the process surrounding the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, better known as the FAFSA.

Currently, students who want to apply for federal financial aid are required to fill out a FAFSA form each year. The proposed bill, entitled File Once FAFSA Act of 2016, would allow a student to file the form once – and only once – to qualify for federal financial aid for college.

The FAFSA has undergone some significant changes within the past years, the most recent being that the form is available months earlier (was January 1, now October 1), beginning this year. This bill, however, would make ease the stresses of filing the FAFSA annually by making it a one-time form, which is likely music to any student’s ears if they’ve had the pleasure of filing the form before.

According to a fact sheet regarding the new legislation, “There are approximately 2 million enrolled college students who would have been eligible to receive a Federal Pell Grant but never completed a FAFSA. Of Pell Grant recipients who continue their education for the second year, 1 in 10 do not refile a FAFSA. Some Pell-eligible students may not file again due to lack of awareness, although research suggests that the complexity of the application process prevents many students from obtaining aid.”

Essentially, this bill proposes that barriers be removed for students who need federal financial aid but are confused or daunted by the process. The bill was proposed to help simplify the complex nature of the application process.

“If enacted, this legislation would help nearly 3.5 million low-income students obtain Pell Grant aid more easily,” as detailed on the legislation’s fact sheet.

The sheet goes on to detail the specific benefits to students, including “allowing a one-time FAFSA for dependent students,” “granting dependent student certification,” and instead of requiring a student to refile the form, “permitting professional judgement” from a financial aid administrator to adjust a student’s Expected Family Contribution or EFFC, which is used to determine financial aid ability.

Whether or not this change occurs? Only time will tell.

Rest assured, we’ll keep tabs on any changes to the FAFSA process so you don’t have to – and we’ll make sure to let you know about any changes that occur so you can benefit from them.

For now, stay tuned, and make sure you file your FAFSA as early as possible – this year it’s available on October 1.

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